The 16 year old narrator and protagonist of the novel. Katniss is an outsider to her country of Panem. As a member of the poorest class in the poorest District (District 12), Katniss is forced to scrounge and hunt for her family's survival. She takes care of her younger sister Prim and her mother by hunting with Gale, her closest friend. She is a professional hunter with great survival skills, and her best weapon is her bow and arrow. In order to stay successful, Katniss has developed a tough stoic attitude to life, which comes in handy once she is chosen to compete as District 12 representative in the Hunger Games. Deep down, Katniss has a deep compassion for others, and thrives on taking care of the helpless. She learns more about this part of herself during the Games.
Katniss's younger sister, 12 years old. She goes by "Prim." Prim is much more innocent and child-like than Katniss, and not just because she lacks the hunting aptitude of her older sister. Katniss makes it her life's priority to protect Prim from the hardness of life, and Prim thus serves as a personification of Katniss's deferred innocence. Prim has a pet goat named Lady, and works sometimes to help their mother with her duties as a healer.
Katniss's mother is never named in the novel, but she is an important part of Katniss's life. After her husband's death, the mother was paralyzed by her grief, so much so that she did not provide for her daughters. This helplessness is what caused Katniss to begin hunting and gathering to protect the family. The mother has since recovered and works as an apothecary (which in Panem means a non-traditional "healer"), but Katniss has never forgiven her for having disappeared as she did. The mother was from a middle-class family, and married beneath her station when she married Katniss's miner father.
Katniss's father is never named in the novel, nor is he seen in the narrative. He was a miner who was killed in a mining explosion before the narrative begins. He was a very close to Katniss, and his death devastated her. Following his death, Katniss adopted a stoic attitude to life so as to provide for her family. Her father was also a wonderful singer.
Katniss's best friend and hunting partner in District 12. He is two years older than her. His last name is not provided by this novel, but is mentioned in the rest of the trilogy. Gale is characterized by Katniss as an attractive boy, though she claims there is no romance between them. He is a skilled hunter and a positive presence in her life. He is as poor as Katniss (if not more so), and equally responsible for providing for his family as she is. His father was killed in the same mine explosion that killed her father. Gale calls Katniss "Catnip."
The police force of Panem. They illustrate the toughness of Capitol laws, though the reader never confronts them directly in this first volume of the trilogy.
An old woman who trades commodities at the Hob, the District 12 trading post.
The daughter of District 12's mayor. Madge is very kind to Katniss, and gives her the mockingjay pin before Katniss heads off to the Hunger Games.
Madge's father, and a big fan of the strawberries that Katniss sells to him. He is the mayor of District 12. He reads the Treaty of Treason at the reaping day ceremony. Described as a "tall, balding man."
A Capitol-appointed escort for the Games. She bears great contempt for District 12, and wishes she could be appointed a better district, even though she balances that contempt with extreme peppiness.
One of the two sole District 12 citizens to have won the Hunger Games, and the only one surviving. As such, he serves as a mentor to his district's tributes. He is a heavy drinker, which makes him seem a buffoon to most, but once Katniss and Peeta impress him, he proves himself a rather adept mentor through establishing their unified front strategy. Though Katniss professes to despise him, she realizes through the novel that they are very much alike in their craftiness and ability to suppress their emotions.
The male tribute chosen to represent District 12 in the Hunger Games, and Katniss's closest companion during the event. The son of a baker, Peeta belongs to the merchant class of the district. Peeta is an extremely kind boy, and once gave Katniss bread when they were much younger, a moment that she considers crucial to her survival in the period after her father's death. He has been in love with Katniss since he first saw her on their first day of school.
A baker in District 12. Katniss learns late in the novel that he once loved her mother. He visits Katniss after she is named tribute, and promises to keep Prim fed.
Venia, Flavius, and Octavia
Katniss's prep team for the Games, responsible for making her presentable (hygiene, make-up, etc.). They are a flamboyant and vacuous bunch, and while not outwardly antagonistic, represent the superficial nature of the Games.
Katniss's stylist for the Games. Gentle and kind, and, in the early stages, one of the few people she trusts on her team. He helps realize Haymitch's unified front strategy by dressing Katniss and Peeta similarly. He also devises the "fire" theme that distinguishes Katniss as "the girl who was on fire."
Peeta's stylist for the Games. She works in tandem with Cinna.
A servant in the center where Katniss stays while preparing for the Games. Years before, Katniss saw the girl get captured by Capitol representatives. The girl's companion, a boy, was killed in the incident. Katniss's inaction in this incident is a great source of her guilt. An Avox is a criminal whose tongue is removed by the Capitol as punishment for a crime.
The President of Panem. Though he seems genial enough, his anger towards Katniss at the end of the novel suggests an uglier side.
The team of Capitol representatives responsible for designing the arena and manipulating it for entertainment effect. They are described as robed, privileged, and uninterested in the well-being of the tributes whose deaths they control.
The Capitol representative who manages the Training Center for the tributes, before they head off to the arena for the Games.
Tributes from richer districts who have illegally trained in order to succeed in the Games. They willingly attend as competitors, and Katniss refers to them as "the Capitol's lapdogs." They include Clove, Glimmer, and Cato.
A female tribute from District 11, the second poorest district in Panem. She is 12 years old and Katniss associates her with Prim. They form an alliance in the Games, and Katniss is emotionally affected by her death, which is a major turning point in the novel.
The interview host for Games-related broadcasts. He maintains an image of perpetual youth through plastic surgery. An extremely affable fellow, Katniss notes how he makes his interview hosts feel at ease, a great irony since his job is to celebrate the brutish nature of the Games.
The announcer for the Hunger Games, described by Katniss as "legendary." His voice announces information to the tributes as they play, as well as narrating for the television audiences.
A female Career tribute known for her proficiency with knives. She is killed by Thresh when about to murder Katniss.
A female tribute who operates through tactical avoidance of conflict. Katniss notices her hiding and darting through the woods, and nicknames her Foxface both for her animalistic features and her ability to stay quiet.
The male tribute from District 11. Rue's counterpart. An extremely large boy who hides in the grassy fields and poses great challenge to the Careers. He saves Katniss's life, and is killed by Cato.
A female Career tribute. She fetches the bow and arrow at the beginning of the Games, and Katniss takes it from her body after she is killed by the tracker jackers that Katniss unleashes on the Careers.
The most vicious of the Career tributes, Cato becomes one of Katniss's primary antagonists. He holds great contempt for her personally, and throughout the Games hunts her.
A legion of muttations (Capitol-managed mutations) that are sent after Katniss, Peeta, and Cato in the last leg of the Games. They are created from the reanimated corpses of the dead tributes.
The Hunger Games Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Hunger Games is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
In Chapter One, we quickly learn that there are reasons Katniss is the tough, determined, take charge, and aloof character we meet early on. She has chosen to adopt an "indifferent mask" so as to avoid becoming the woman her mother became after...
I think the title Hunger Games works on a literal and figurative level. Literally the Hunger Games is an exploitive display by Panem to remind the districts how much power they have. Figuratively, these "games" represent the poverty and starvation...